It has been a busy week for US military planners.
As the NATO summit in Wales kicks off today, with an expected agreement to create a “spearhead” force of up to 5,000 troops to rapidly deploy to any “hotspot” in eastern Europe, we learn that the US will also send several hundred troops to participate in NATO military exercises in Ukraine later this month. The exercises, provocatively named “Rapid Trident,” are said to be “a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine…”
As the civil war rages on in Kiev, with US-backed troops from Kiev fighting to suppress an independence movement in the east, the presence of US troops on Ukrainian soil sends a perhaps dangerously clear message of US willingness to become further involved in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Russia has been accused of military involvement on behalf of those seeking independence from Kiev, but Moscow denies any official Russian role.
President Obama said Wednesday he wants “American boots on the ground, continuously rotating through Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania,” in response to Russian “aggression” in the region.
Also this week, President Obama signed off on yet another deployment of US troops back to Iraq, bringing the total number to over 1,000. US air strikes on Iraqi territory have continued for several weeks and though the Obama administration claims these additional troops will have no combat role, he also claimed not long ago that there would be no US combat troops returning to Iraq at all.
President Obama spoke yesterday on the importance of respecting national sovereignty in advance of the NATO summit:
We’ll meet as an alliance with President Poroshenko to show that our 28 nations are united in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the administration is said to be moving ever closer to an attack on Syrian territory without that country’s permission. The target is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) whose ranks have been significantly swelled by those previously trained and armed by the United States as “moderate” anti-Assad rebels.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is pushing legislation to authorize the administration to attack Syria, but the White House has maintained that it considers such a move unnecessary. The authority for a US strike on Syria already exists, claims the US administration. Such a strike would be a violation of international law and of Syria’s sovereignty, however.
A key pretext for the planned US attack is the apparent murder of anAmerican/Israeli journalist by the Islamist group ISIS. That journalist, Steven Sotloff, had previously been embedded as a journalist with the Syrian rebels, with whom he expressed sympathy, but had somehow been kidnapped and, it appears, murdered.
The peace president is clearly on war footing. US bombs are also going off in Africa and Pakistan. No one at home is talking about NSA spying anymore. NATO has a new mission.